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  • I have always had a restless spirit. When I am grounded, I dream of taking flight. When I am flying, I look for solid ground.

    It’s not that I am dissatisfied with where I am at. Not at all. It’s just that there is some ineffable force pushing me constantly onward, almost as if I am a fish and if I stop moving I will no longer be able to breathe. The specter of stagnation forever gnashing at my heels, spurring me to seek new surrounds.

    Like I said: restless spirit.

    All of this restlessness leaves me also with a perpetual sense of homelessness. I live in a dichotomous limbo between craving a sense of home and being compelled to continually refresh my surroundings. In short, I never feel truly rooted anywhere when I am always preparing to leave. And indeed it seems I am always either coming or going, returning or departing. I often come back to a place which harbors fond memories--strong memories--and my experience is an unsettling mixture of nostalgia and renewal. Like meeting up with an old friend who is now a stranger.

    My summer travels brought this fact into sharp relief: none of us can ever go home. Not really. By the time we recognize what we consider home, what we yearn for is already gone. By the time we wake, our surroundings have transformed overnight into something unrecognizable. By the time we exhale, our breath has gone stale.

    I spent a month in the Pacific Northwest this summer. I was born and raised in Oregon, so I guess you could call this my homeland. Or birthplace. Take your pick. Some of my time blended seamlessly into my lifelong Oregon consciousness, but other moments distinguished themselves with that sharp pang of nostalgia, that elusive sense of home.

    Warm blackberries from the vine. Soft grass beneath my back and a summer breeze through the maples. The muffling silence of fog on the beach. Expansive, exhilarating vistas across the Cascade peaks and the smell of pine trees in the high country.

    And yet, despite these acute pangs of familiarity, I never felt quite home.

    I left that place in August, strangely feeling both homesick and homeless. It made me wonder if home is more a state of mind than an actual place. Or perhaps a state of being. A state of being at rest.

    Now I am back in New Mexico, and the rains have come and gone. The desert is still green, and autumn willow leaves spread their yellow blanket across the arroyos. The nights are cold, and woodsmoke swirls in the evening breeze. The air is sharp, lonely, and hollow in my lungs. The desert takes on a stark beauty in the winter, with the craggy peaks of the Organs often shrouded in low-hanging clouds.

    I feel content here, grateful to be in one place after a summer of perpetual motion. And yet, at the same time, we are again preparing to leave. First to Utah next week, then to California next month, Mexico the following month, and next summer for a trip of indeterminate length and breadth.

    Home but not home. Here but not for long.

    Restless spirit.
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